The German Shepherd is a breed of dog that is originally from the Federal Republic of Germany. It was first bred by Captain Max von Stehanitz, including a few other professional breeders who wanted to produce a loving, reliable, handsome and loyal type of dog. Thus, the GSD was created due to the breeding of farm dogs and local herding, which originated from Bavaria, Thurgina and Wurtermberg.
Primarily, the farm and herding dogs had short hair, although there were long and wire-haired ones. After the crossing was made, the dog that was bred was introduced at Hanover, in 1882. Short-haired GSDs were first presented at Berlin, in 1889 while the registration was done by Captain Max, in the April of 1889.
In that year, the dog’s registered name was “Horan”, and it was considered as the very first Deutsche Schferhunde. In English, this is translated as the German Shepherd Dog or GSD. Eventually, the breed was brought to the United States, in 1907. By 1908, the American Kennel Club formally recognized this new dog breed.
Indeed, the GSD is one of the widely popular dog breeds, and it is famous for its loyalty and boldness, a trait that is unique to this type of dog. It also served numerous functions such as a guard dog and a loyal companion in the armed force service. You can also count on the GSD to perform other tasks such as herding, search and rescue work, as well as assisting the sight impaired.
Life Expectancy and Physical Appearance
German Shepherds can live up to about 13 years, although there are some GSDs that can outlive that length of time. As for the average height of these dogs, male species can reach a maximum of 26 inches while female ones can go as high as 24 inches in height. They may also weigh between 77 and 85 pounds when given proper care and nourishment.
Because of the primary task of GSDs , which is to work and assist humans, these dogs are generally strong, muscular and agile creatures. They are also quite long-bodied, and they have keen erect ears with bright almond-shaped eyes. As a whole, these dogs are strong, tough and properly-balanced.
The European varieties of these dogs have some differences with the American ones when it comes to their shape. Nevertheless, these both appear muscular and sturdy, which are common traits of all GSDs.
These dogs have a double coat, and they may either be long-haired or short-haired. You can also find this dog breed in various colors, although most of them are red/black or tan/black. Some varieties may also have that signature dark mask-like appearance on their face, as well as a black body. However, rare color for the coat include blue, sable, pure white and pure black.
While these dogs may appear rather intimidating, you will appreciate their mild temperament. In fact, GSDs are known to be loyal, intelligent and loving dogs. They are also naturally courageous and strong, since these dogs are originally working breeds. When it comes to their owners, they can be very protective and caring. However, they do not act the same with strangers. They may be quite indifferent and aloof with people who are outside the family, as they are protective of those whom they know very well.
As for their intelligence level, German Shepherds are quick and easy to train. They can easily pick up a new skill or trick and you can count on their intelligent nature to do particularly well in police work.
However, you have to be very careful about dealing with this breed of dog. It is not the kind of dog that you should leave alone for a long period. When this happens, they can be violent and destructive. This is the main reason why some GSDs are known for their constant barking, aggression, digging habits and chewing. With this in mind, it may help to send these dogs to a behavioral training center, or at least give them ample time for socialization. Make them feel as though they belong to your household, so they will not resort to having a wild and destructive behavior.
Ideally, you need to give these dogs responsibilities as they are intended as working dogs. Even if they are meant to be your household pet, try your best to delegate simple tasks to them to avoid behavioral concerns. When they are left without much attention from the owner, they can become bored and aloof – and these start the negative behavior in these dogs.
In most cases, GSDs bark when they can sense danger and crucial conditions. They may also act protective and defensive once they sense that a stranger is coming closer to your house. This natural instinct of GSDs can be toned down a bit when they are provided with socialization time whether with your other family members or other household pets. Consider taking your dog to the park or just around the neighborhood. Walk them regularly and give them a chance to play to release excess energy that may trigger undesirable habits and behavior.
Most kids can go well with German Shepherd Dogs since this breed has an innate loving trait. They are affectionate and friendly, and they can be a great watch dog not only for your property, but also your kids. Just be sure to introduce your dog well with every member of your family, so they will not resort to acting in a hostile and unacceptable behavior. Proper socialization and training can also prevent issues such as leaping on people, constant barking and chasing. Once your dog reaches a few months old, it may be best to enroll it at a training school.
Since German Shepherds have double coats, it is important to keep them well-groomed at all times. Proper grooming also ensures the good health and favorable appearance of your dog. Make sure that the coat stays silky and free from any skin issues. Any dogs that are not properly cared for end up having rashes and other problems with their skin and body.
Initially, you may have some issues when it comes to grooming your GSD since this task can be somewhat challenging. This is particularly true if you own a long-haired German Shepherd. Just be sure to brush its coat at least thrice a week, and that should be enough to maintain the shine and health of its skin and hair.
When choosing the right type of brush to use on your dog, look for one that has soft bristles. You should also make sure that the coat is trimmed once it gets too long. By doing so, you can keep it in excellent condition while improving the overall look and health of your pet.
Keep the nails trimmed, as well. Then, check the teeth regularly, and these should be brushed weekly to minimize risks of gum and teeth issues. Consider these aspects as a major part of your pet’s grooming plan to keep it in superb condition at all times.
Common Health Problems
As with any dog breeds, the GSD is also prone to certain ailments when not properly cared for. Moreover, this breed is susceptible to various disorders because of incorrect breeding techniques. For instance, joint dysplasia leading to arthritis is common among GSDs. In a study by researchers at the University of Zurich, about 45 percent of GSDs face degenerative spine stenosis. In addition, about 19.1 percent of this dog breed suffer from hip dysplasia, based on the Orthopedic Foundations for Animals. Ear disease is another common health problem with German Shepherds.
Among the other ailments typical with this dog breed include degenerative myelopathy and Von Willbrand disorder. So, to prevent these diseases, proper care is necessary for the good health of these dogs.
Overall, GSDs are excellent pets, guides and companions for various types of people. They are well-loved for their loving nature, and they can be quite reliable because of their innate desire to protect their owners from harm.
Although there are some dogs that may act in an unruly manner, this issue may be prevented with proper training and socialization. It is important to give your pet ample time to play and socialize with family members, so you can prevent these dogs from acting hostile and destructive. You may consider taking your dog for a leisurely stroll, hiking, camping, or just about any activity that will also give it a chance to exercise and release its excess energy.